SEA Games: Vic Manuel excited, ready to make the most of Gilas Pilipinas stint

Santino Honasan on Oct 01, 2019 04:06 PM
Vic Manuel excited, ready to make the most of Gilas stint
"Sobrang excited talaga na isa ako sa tinawag ni Coach Tim. Parang ang tagal ko na ring pinangarap na maging part nito, siyempre kahit sinong player naman, pinapangarap maging part nito or makapag-laro dito diba?" - Vic Manuel (Photo: Josh Albelda / ABS-CBN Sports)

Alaska Aces bruiser Vic Manuel could hardly contain his excitement after his first practice with Gilas Pilipinas.

The 32-year old big man was part of the 15-man pool chosen by newly-tapped head coach Tim Cone for the upcoming 2019 Southeast Asian Games.

“The Muscleman” in particular, was handpicked by the multi-titled PBA mentor.

“Vic was one of my personal choices,” said Cone during the pool announcement, late September. “I’m excited about Vic because I think Vic would be a dominant player in the Southeast Asian level. He'd be able to take guys in. He's got that sweet jump shot. That's the reason why we put him there.”

For Manuel, being called upon to be part of the National Team was a wish come true.

“Sobrang excited talaga na isa ako sa tinawag ni Coach Tim,” Manuel told ABS-CBN Sports. “Parang ang tagal ko na ring pinangarap na maging part nito, siyempre kahit sinong player naman, pinapangarap maging part nito or makapag-laro dito diba? Talagang sobrang laking achievement sa akin nito, na magiging part ako nitong Gilas, so talagang looking forward ako na makatulong dito sa National Team natin.”

After initial rumblings of the SEA Games squad being bannered by younger Pinoy talents, Cone ultimately went with an all-PBA lineup, citing efficiency, experience, and familiarity as key factors in the decision to field veterans.

Much to his surprise and to his delight, Manuel found himself among that list of PBA vets.

“Sobrang thankful talaga ako kay Coach Tim, kasi unang-una, hindi ko naman inexpect talaga ‘to,” Manuel expressed. “Ang alam ko, siyempre ang daming mas magagaling na player dito sa atin sa PBA, kahit sa college pa diba, so talagang nagulat ako na ako yung na-pick niya, so sobrang tuwa ko nung malaman ko na kinuha ako ni Coach Tim, after practice ko pa nalaman kasi may practice kami nun sa Alaska eh, so nagulat din ako, andaming nagmemention sa akin sa social media, nagulat ako kung ano yung sinasabi nila tapos nabasa ko na isa nga ako sa 15-man pool na kinuha ni Coach Tim, so masaya talaga.

“Alam mo yun, parang na-shock ka? Nabigla ako, totoo ba ‘to? Siyempre ako, matagal ko na ding pinapangarap na maging member dito, kahit practice player nga lang okay na sa akin eh. Thankful ako na isa akong napili,” he continued.

While Manuel has had international experience before with a 3X3 stint, this will be his first time to rep the country’s colors with the senior team and admits that he felt every bit like a rookie heading into his first day of practice.

“Ayun nga nasabi ko nga kanina, papunta ako dito, talagang yung pakiramdam ko para akong rookie, kinakabahan ako na hindi ko alam, excitement or kung ano yung nararamdaman ko, so yun, parang hindi ako maka-baba ng sasakyan ko, nai-stuck ako doon sa loob, iniisip ko kung ano ba ‘tong nararamdaman ko, talagaing kinakabahan ako.”

Once he was able to soak it all in, it was time to work.

“Pag-pasok ko, nag-start na kami na mag-meeting, nag-start yung practice, nakahinga ako ng maluwag, so ayun. Na-welcome na ako, part na talaga ako nito, so yun, focused na ako sa practice. Talagang nakaka-bigla rin, nakaka-tuwa,” Manuel added.

Manuel also spoke eagerly about being able to play alongside the towering big men that he usually goes against in the PBA, even for just a few practices and games.

“Ang saya rin pala sa pakiramdam, no? Na siyempre, yang sila Greg Slaughter, lagi kong binabantayan sa PBA, ang laki, ang hirap talaga bantayan. Kahit maging kakampi ko lang sa isang practice, malaking bagay na eh, lalo na si Japeth Aguilar siyempre. Alam naman natin kung gaano ka-athletic si Japeth, ang hirap depensahan, so magaan yung trabaho pag kasama sila. Nakakahinga ako ng maluwang.”

“Hinga muna ako ng maluwag pang-samantala kasi pagbalik namin sa PBA, mag-kakalaban ulit kami eh,” Manuel added with a laugh.

Like most everyone in the pool, Manuel is also looking forward to playing under and learning from Cone, the PBA’s most decorated head coach.

“Excited talaga ako na maglaro para kay Coach Tim, siyempre alam naman natin si Coach Tim, talagang champion coach ‘to eh. Willing akong matuto sa kanya at makinig, lahat ng ituturo niya talagang kailangan pumasok sa utak ko, kasi yun din yung binilin sa akin ni Sonny Thoss eh, na marami kang matututunan kay Coach Tim, makinig ka lang. Pumasok naman sa utak ko, totoo naman, kung paano ka-disiplinadong coach si Coach Tim, kailangan makinig ka talaga sa kanya eh, hindi pwede yung lumilipad yung utak mo, mamaya bigla ka niyang tanungin tapos mawala ka, diba? Kailangan focused. Pag practice namin dito, kailangan makinig ka lang lagi sa kanya.”

Being one of the guys handpicked by Cone, Manuel says that he’s ready to accept and fulfil any and every role that Cone needs him to play. Being one of the Aces’ main men, Manuel knows that such isn’t the case especially when playing alongside a collection of talent like this one.

“Ready lang ako sa kung ano magiging role ko sa team na ‘to, kailangan ibaba mo yung ego mo eh, kasi marami kang kasama na magagaling na player eh, kailangan mag-adjust ka, alam mo dapat kung ano yung maitutulong mo, so kailangan talaga ibaba mo yung ego mo pagdating mo dito. Sa team mo, alam bida ka, pero pagdating dito hindi. Ready na ako kung ano maitutulong ko sa team na ‘to.”

The SEA Games men’s basketball tournament has been widely dominated by the Philippines since the SEA Games’ inception in 1977, winning a total of 17 out of a possible 19 gold medals. The Philippines has won gold for the last 12 stagings of the biennial tournament, and with Gilas fielding an all-pro roster for this year’s games the expectations of a 13th-straight gold medal is high.

Manuel however, doesn’t want to get a little too overconfident, no matter how favored Gilas Pilipinas is. He would rather let their game to the talking.

“For me kasi ang hirap mag-kumpiyansa eh, ang hirap sabihin kasi alam naman natin yung ibang Asian teams mag-iimprove na, so ako, for me lang, gusto ko doon na lang sa game, doon na lang ipakita namin kung ano yung magagawa namin at kung saan kami aabot.”

“Ang hirap kasi magsalita ng tapos eh, kung matatalo kami dito parang magiging katapusan na rin namin eh, alam natin yun kasi hindi ka pwede mag-bitaw ng salita na kaya namin eh, so kailangan ipakita mo, gawin mo. Hindi pupwede sabihin na ‘Kaya namin ‘to’, kailangan pakita mo talaga sa buong Pilipinas, sa bansa natin na lumalaban ka para manalo tayo,” he concluded.

 

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